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Pharmaton Natural Health Products, the marketer of Ginsana, today introduces the first nationally advertised St. John's wort brand.

The move comes as American Home Products Corp. and Warner-Lambert Co. are set to launch new lines in the growing herbal-supplements market.

Despite a late entry into the booming $400 million category for St. John's wort, Pharmaton's Movana brand will get a $15 million TV and print campaign from the Sawtooth Group, Woodbridge, N.J.

In "a category replete with many competitors, this TV presence will separate [Movana] right away," said Chet Moss, senior VP-creative director at Sawtooth.


The 30-second spot uses the tagline "Keep life in perspective" and plays with optical illusions, showing towering stacks of work files and giant babies -- then revealing they only appear large because they are close to the camera.

St. John's wort is often called "nature's Prozac," a reference to the Eli Lilly & Co. prescription drug. But Pharmaton decided to stay away from the subject of depression in its advertising.

"We didn't want to paint St. John's wort as the solution to a host of emotional problems. It opens a Pandora's box, and you get into [Food & Drug Administration] issues," Mr. Moss said.

Pharmaton VP-Marketing Bob Carraher said focus groups found that consumers "feel stigmatized when buying St. John's wort -- and it's a little scary when you think about people treating themselves for depression."

"The consensus was that the largest audience will come from treating motivation and self-esteem," he added.

Within a month, AHP is expected to launch its anticipated Centrum Herbals line with an estimated $12 million campaign from Grey Advertising, New York. Centrum vitamins were supported by $26.6 million in 1997 and is handled by Carrafiello-Diehl & Associates, Irvington, N.Y.


In October, Warner-Lambert will follow up its entries into the herbals market -- Halls Zinc Defense lozenges and echinacea lozenges licensed under the Celestial Seasonings brand -- with a new line called Quanterra.

Quanterra will be launched with two products, one for mental sharpness and the other for maintaining prostate health, with an estimated $15 million TV push from Bates USA, New York. Ads are expected to break in November.

They follow on the heels of the July launch of One-A-Day Specialized Supplements from Bayer Corp. and a line from Celestial Seasonings introduced last spring.

Media spending in the vitamins/minerals/supplements category tracked by Competitive Media Reporting swelled nearly 40% through May, to $101.5 million when compared to the same five-month period in 1997. Spending for 1997 grew to $184.5 million, a 33% increase over 1996, the bulk of it on TV.

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